It’s Not My Fault

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When a nation is in a moment of crisis, we expect our leaders to have a bare minimum of two traits: honesty and credibility. Unfortunately, as we wade through the ongoing worldwide pandemic of Covid-19, the United States of America is left wanting of such virtues in the current president.

As we all know, Donald Trump has an aversion to the truth like no other. I’ve called it pathological in this space more than a few times, and he’s done nothing to counteract that assessment. But it’s not just honesty and credibility we should expect of our leaders. We should also expect him or her to have humility. When things go wrong, as they always do in any presidential administration, at times, there needs to be a comeuppance. An acknowledgment, however painful it might be, that maybe I could have done things better, quickly followed by an “I promise to do better in the future” proclamation.

With this president, it’s never a consideration to do any such thing. Throughout his first term, I’ve been waiting for that moment where he rises to the occasion and accepts responsibility for his actions, or in the present catastrophe, inaction. But that acceptance has not, nor will it ever, occur.

We’ve heard interviews and read book excerpts about how this president feels it’s a sign of weakness ever to say you’re sorry or accept responsibility for anything. And to make matters even worse, he blames others. We’ve seen it time and time again. Usually, the disdain he has for his predecessor, Barrack Obama, rears it’s ugly head whenever something goes wrong. The current pandemic crisis and his handling of it is a prime example.

The other day, in a Rose Garden press conference, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked him a straightforward question: “Mr. President, do you take any responsibility for disbanding the Pandemic Response Team in 2018?” His answer: “That’s a nasty question. And no, I do not accept responsibility. I didn’t do it. Someone in the administration may have, but it wasn’t me.”

Sigh. Another missed opportunity. How different would the American people feel about this president if he would have responded differently? What if he would have accepted blame, just this one time? For me, It would have been a welcome development. It would show he finally gets it—that saying you’re sorry and admitting mistakes is a sign of strength, not weakness. Once again, though, he failed miserably.

Until now, we’ve been fortunate to have leaders who acted differently in times of crisis and heightened insecurity. When we compare the current president to the actions of others, the contrast is striking. As with most of what’s happened over the last few years, it’s simply unprecedented.

President Harry Truman, for example, was famous for saying that “The buck stops here.” There was a sign on his White House desk that said exactly that. The refrain was a simple yet powerful statement that set the tone for his presidency. Perhaps the current president’s sign should say: “Don’t blame me.”

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General Dwight Eisenhower, the architect of the D-Day invasion during WW11 and future president of the United States, famously produced two letters before the operation. The first one sets an optimistic tone: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good Luck!”

But his second letter was an ‘in case we failed’ acceptance of responsibility: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”

We knew the results of that day on June 6, 1944, but at the time, Eisenhower certainly had his doubts. It showed the real measure of the man himself. He showed a willingness to accept the responsibility for the magnitude of the moment, regardless of the outcome. It’s undoubtedly a hypothetical, but what would the current president have done, given the same circumstances? Blame FDR? Blame the weather?

There are other examples, of course. JFK took the blame for the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961; Ronald Reagan acknowledged his error in judgment over Iran-Contra. And Trump’s predecessor, the man he loves to hate, ultimately took the blame for the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act website.

Here’s the deal, folks. Taking the blame for mistakes isn’t a sign of weakness. For Trump, it is. But his malignant narcissism prevents him from seeing it any other way. It’s who he is now, who he’s been in the past, and who he will always be.

How many times in your own lives have you had to say you’re sorry? It’s not easy to do, and I get that. It’s merely an acknowledgment that you’re a human being. It shows you can accept what you did or said was wrong. In our relationships, it helps ensure stability. But for people in leadership positions, especially for someone as high up as the president of the United States, it’s an essential trait.

In times like these, the lack of credibility and honesty from the Commander in Chief leaves us all wondering what’s next. How can we trust what comes out of this White House? How can we believe that he has our interests in his heart instead of his own? The short answer is that we cannot.

But wouldn’t it be nice to see the man display at least a modicum of humility? Take the blame once in a while, vow to do better, and move on. It shouldn’t be that hard. With this president, however, it’s a bridge too far.

18 comments

    1. UGHHHH…I know Kim. I heard that. This is exactly what people like you and me were worried about from day one. He’s been relatively lucky up till now. But this just shows everyone how ill-prepared he is to handle something like this. To be fair, it would be tough for any president. But for this one? Complete disaster.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well stated, Jeff. I really appreciated your conclusion: “But wouldn’t it be nice to see the man display at least a modicum of humility? Take the blame once in a while, vow to do better, and move on. It shouldn’t be that hard. With this president, however, it’s a bridge too far.” That’s exactly why I get so exasperated with my evangelical friends. Humility is a key theme in the Bible. Many Bible passages call for leaders to be humble. Yet the vast majority of white American evangelicals–who claim to be led by Bible teachings–support and celebrate the most ignorant, arrogant, proud, uncaring president the nation has ever elected. By and large, evangelicals have shown that their true goal is political power, not any achieving any biblical mandates.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jerry. It’s one of the most perplexing things I’ve ever observed. Politics and religion is never a good mix, especially these days. I wish we could keep the two more separate than we do. But, it never happens. That’s America, I suppose. So glad you have a reasoned approach to it, though.

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  2. Such a horrible “leader”, and yet today his approval rating is, once again, on the rise. HOW??? WHY??? What the hell is there to approve of??? Sigh. Shoot me now. Great post, Jeff … I shall re-blog shortly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always Jill, thank you for that. I’m beginning to think something is wrong with me. Why do I feel he will come out smelling like a rose, no matter how this crisis turns out? I guess half the country just doesn’t care if their president is a lying/idiot/fool. Can’t be the 401k thing anymore. That’s taking an incredible hit. I don’t know Jill, do I need to start wearing rose colored glasses when I see him speaking?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nothing wrong with you, my friend … it’s the entire world that’s screwed up. He will come out smelling like a rose, but only with his supporters because they are so invested in their belief that he will “make America great again” that they cannot afford to allow even the smallest bit of doubt to colour their opinion. They have to believe, else in their minds, all is lost. Not only that, but then they have to admit that they made a mistake … a colossal mistake … and they’re not about to do that. And lucky for them … they have people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Warren Davidson, Devin Nunes, Matt Shea and many more to promise them that he’s doing everything just perfect, and it’s those damned democrats that are the problem. Sigh. No, Jeff, if you don the rose-coloured glasses, I will snatch them off of your face and stomp them into a thousand shards. I need you to keep your sanity!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff, well said. The words accountability, truthfulness, decency, leader, et al are not top of mind words to define the US president. Corrupt, deceitful, mercurial, bully et al sadly are such words.

    Donald Trump was mentored by attorney Roy Cohn who told him to never apologize and to sue everyone. Neither are good traits. But, we should remember Cohn was one of two advisors to one of the worst people ever to be a Senator – Joe McCarthy of communist witch hunt fame. The other one is some guy named Richard Nixon. Like the question asked of McCarthy by the Sec of the Army, it could be asked of Trump, “have you no sense of decency, sir?” Like McCarthy, he does not. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

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